Getting it Right From the Start

Our Mission



To collaboratively develop and test models of optimal cannabis policy (retail practices, marketing and taxation) with the goal of reducing harms, youth and problem use. These models will be based on the best scientific evidence and guided by the principals of protection of public health, social equity and safety. Our work includes:

  • Developing model local ordinances for licensing cannabis retailers, marketing, and general and special taxes on cannabis, all based on decades of accumulated experience from tobacco and alcohol control

  • Carrying out research with multiple national stakeholders and experts to identify best practices

  • Developing legal analyses of relevant issues for local licensing, constraints on marketing, and local taxation.

  • Developing a Listserv, webinars and other technical assistance tools to support communities and exchange experiences and questions.

  • Providing public health oriented input to regulatory processes.

Children and parents running a marathon


Getting it Right From the Start project is funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, without whose generous support our work would not be possible.

Our research is generously funded by the following (but does not necessarily represent the official views of any organization other than Getting it Right From the Start): 

  • Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program

  • National Institutes of Drug Abuse

Our Team

Lynn Silver, MD, MPH, FAAP

Principal Investigator

Dr. Lynn Silver, a pediatrician and public health advocate, is Senior Advisor at the Public Health Institute and Clinical Professor at University of California San Francisco. She focuses on policies to prevent noncommunicable disease, its risk factors and inequitable impact. Silver was Assistant Health Commissioner of New York City under Mayor Bloomberg, leading innovative policy work such as the nation’s first trans fat ban, calorie labeling law and the National Salt Reduction Initiative and supported innovative tobacco control policies and programs.  She served as Health Officer for Sonoma County, California. She founded and co-chairs the California Alliance for Funding Prevention. At the Public Health Institute (PHI) she has worked on the Berkeley coalition that lead the nation’s first successful soda tax effort, and collaborated on soda tax campaigns in other cities and states. She recently completed evaluation of the Berkeley soda tax and is evaluating San Francisco’s first of its kind warning label for SSB advertising, as well as researching other regulatory policy issues in Latin America. Her interest in local marijuana regulation arose from her experience as a public health official  and belief that public health oriented measures are needed now to protect against youth and problem use in the setting of a rapidly expanding new legal industry for a  product with significant harms. She received her MD and MPH degrees and pediatric training from the Johns Hopkins University and was previously visiting scholar at  the Karolinska Institute.

Alisa Padon, PhD

Research Scientist

Dr. Alisa Padon completed her doctorate in public health from the department of Health, Behavior & Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and finished a postdoctoral fellowship at the Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Her past research focused on youth-targeted marketing and promotions of alcohol and tobacco products, examining the intersection between the unique vulnerabilities of youth and the psychosocial and neurocognitive appeals and techniques used in marketing. She is now translating that work as a research scientist at the Public Health Institute, into the regulation of sugar sweetened beverages and legalized recreational cannabis.

Amanda Z. Naprawa, JD, MPH

Policy Associate

Amanda Zibners Naprawa is a Policy Associate for the Getting it Right from the Start Project at PHI.  She holds a law degree from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and a Masters in Public Health from U.C. Berkeley School of Public Health.  She was previously a Health Policy Fellow at UC Hastings College of Law where she worked on a project watching and analyzing attempts at health reform in the U.S.  She served for four years as a federal law clerk to the Hon. James L. Graham (S.D. Ohio), was an Adjunct Instructor at OSU Moritz College of Law where she taught 2L Appellate Advocacy, and practiced civil litigation.  Her academic research primarily focuses on vaccines, child health, and public health law.  Amanda is also a health journalist and regular contributor to U.C. Berkeley’s online Wellness Letter, where she also serves on the Board of Editors.

Aurash Jason Soroosh, MSPH, RD

Policy Research Associate

Aurash Jason Soroosh works as a Policy Research Associate at the Public Health Institute. He is a Registered Dietitian and received a Master of Science in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Before coming to PHI, Jason was a Cannabis Product Safety Analyst at the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission where he co-authored edible cannabis product regulations for the state. He also served as a Co-Chair of the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) Cannabis Committee. Originally from California, Jason is a formally trained chef who spent nearly a decade in the Cannabis Industry developing a business that grew medical cannabis and produced edible cannabis products.

Kiara Gonzalez

Administrative Assistant

Kiara Gonzalez provides communications and administrative support to the project. She received her Bachelor of Science in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. Gonzalez has experience working with non-profits and health initiative programs such as the Berkeley Student Cooperative and the Healthy Hearts Clinic at the Children's Hospital Oakland. Her interests include public health and immigration reform. She hopes to one day aid in the healing of burn victims as a practicing physician.

Ted Mermin, JD

Legal Consultant

Ted Mermin, executive director of the Public Good Law Center, has for the past decade worked with local, state and federal agencies in the development and defense of innovative policies in public health and consumer law; litigated public health and consumer rights cases in appellate and trial courts around the nation; written and spoken extensively on issues of tobacco control, marketing to children, deceptive advertising, unfair competition, preemption and commercial speech. His clients include ChangeLab Solutions, the Center for Public Health and Tobacco Policy, the Public Health Law Center, Healthy Food America, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. He has filed briefs on behalf of the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Public Health Association, the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among many others, and has worked with the federal Food and Drug Administration, California Department of Public Health, Oregon Department of Health, New York City Department of Health and Mental Health, City and County of San Francisco, and National Association of Attorneys General. Ted teaches Consumer Protection Law at the UC Berkeley School of Law, serves as pro bono counsel to the Consumer Justice Clinic at the East Bay Community Law Center, and convenes the California Low-Income Consumer Coalition. Previously he served for eight years as a Deputy Attorney General in the California Department of Justice, worked in private practice, and served as a law clerk for the Hon. Louis H. Pollak. He holds degrees from UC Berkeley (J.D.) and Yale (B.A.).

Leslie Zellers, JD

Legal Consultant

Leslie Zellers is a consultant with the Public Good Law Center and an attorney with more than 20 years of experience in public health law and public policy for government and nonprofit organizations. She works to advance health and well-being through policy and legal work in areas such as tobacco control, creating healthy places, and improving access to healthcare. Her clients include the World Health Organization, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, and local governments such as Alameda and Santa Clara Counties. Previously, Leslie was the Director of Programs at ChangeLab Solutions, a nonprofit organization that works with local governments and the community to create environments where healthy options and lifestyles are available to all residents. Leslie led the tobacco control work at ChangeLab Solutions for 15 years, helping dozens of California communities adopt laws to create smokefree areas or regulate how tobacco products are sold. Prior to working with ChangeLab Solutions, Leslie conducted legal and policy work on tobacco prevention and childhood lead poisoning prevention for Contra Costa County and several nonprofit organizations. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, and a graduate of the UC Hastings College of the Law. Leslie serves on the Board of Directors of Counter Tools (a tobacco control nonprofit) and is a member of the Alameda County Tobacco Control Coalition.


We collaboratively develop and test models of optimal cannabis policy (retail practices, marketing & taxation) with the goal of reducing harms, youth use & problem use. These models are based on the best scientific evidence and guided by the principles of public health, social justice, and equity. 

We also provide technical assistance to jurisdictions considering legalizing cannabis. Please contact us for more information.